Cantering on the road?

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Something from another board caught my eye.

Is cantering on the road as bad as it's painted?

We all (those of us of a certain age!!) were brought up with "grip with your knees" "feed your horse oats" "never canter on the roads"

Now cantering on the roads is bad practice as they can be darned slippery, BUT is it the slipping hazard or the hardness that is the REAL underlying issue?

I know horses that have had concussion laminitis from trotting on the roads for long distances, and I have known hunters who hunt twice a week spent all day cantering on the roads with no ill effect who live long , sound useful lives.

Is a steady, balanced canter (not deliberate or intentional) on the road less or more damaging that a stonking trot??

My reasoning is that both have a moment of suspension and a horse lands on his feet in diagonal pairs in trot at each stride, ....but he also lands on his feet from a moment of suspension in canter. But to my mind canter is a more measured, balanced gait. (unless you have a Fjord!! ;) ;) )

Come on everyone, stick that in your toaster and see what pops up! Is it an old wives tail or is there real truth in it?
 

chev

Moderator
May 7, 2002
10,871
1,165
113
right here, right now
I think a controlled, even-paced canter is probably much easier on the legs than a full-on extended trot uphill to be honest! I have been told that cantering on roads is actually not the evil it's made out to be by my vet.

Still can't bring myself to do it though - I have this vision of my old RI appearing in front of me purple with rage! :eek:
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Having done a lot of endurance and hunting, there are times when the horse will just take over and you will canter on the road. IN straight lines I see no problem, turning and slipping is what worries me.

Common sense (if I have any) would say that a steady canter, on a non slippery road would do less damage than a stonking trot.
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Shoeless would make the whole thing far safer, but the road surface they have put down at the end or our track has sheep falling over on it! No shoes and fleshy feet!
 

goeslikestink

New Member
Oct 28, 2007
649
0
0
um-- well my thoughts i was brought up the same as you wally that not to canter on roads but as theres always a butt

police do it when they have to, and in usa in central park they do it moreso as the patorl the areas around the park
bit like us with the london police force
so iam thinking they might have different set of shoes on there little tootsies
to compensate if they need to
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Road studs are not invincible, it's the concussion thing I am interested in, not so much the slipping.
 

Fanshawe

New Member
Aug 16, 2007
784
0
0
South Hams, Devon
Personally I wouldn't and I guess a lot of that is because I'd be scared of her damaging legs/slipping etc-even though that probably is unlikely. The other reason is because when on the roads I never ask her to do anything I wouldn't want her doing if I fell off and she went off. May sound mad but for example we always stop at any junction no matter whether I can see what is coming or if we're turning left or right. She then stands for the count of 5.

It may not make any difference but am working on the basis that if I do it every time then if I fall off and she goes off then there is an increased chance that she will actually stop and look for traffic! Yes maybe crazy but then she stops at junctions without me asking and she does look left and right. If she hears any vehicle she will question my ask for her to go forward to make sure I really want her to.

On that basis cantering on the road is not something I'd want her to do because if I wasn't on board I feel she would be more at risk of slipping or doing something silly as it gets the adrenaline going. Maybe I'm weird I don't know! :)
 

pineapple

New Member
Nov 9, 2007
916
0
0
Gloucester, Hartpury
when i was alot younger about 10 til 13 i cantered my pony on the road all the time then i was told it was really bad for her legs and i stopped doing it, only on occasion when she just got excited trotting home or whatever. but now i ride her again quite often and sometimes i canter as long as its slowly.

she has no splints or has never been lame has laminitis or anything. i think it depends on your horse, if your horse is often lame with bad conformation etc. then they may suffer from long period of trotting/cantering on the roads. however, a sound horse with excellent conformation shouldnt suffer any ill effects.
 

Torny

Horsin' Around
Aye, that be the ol wives tale I have been brought up with, however, I think it means 'Excessive Cantering' on the roads is bad, as is the risk of slipping. I see a lot of shoed horses slipping while my barefoot horse is fine.

On a whole the Trot is the most concussive gait the horse does, thus a lot of lameness can be contributed from excessive trotting on hard surfaces. However I don't suggest people going gallavanting around at crazy canter on the streets, nor purposly go 'ohh look, a straight bit of road, lets have a quick canter'. There is also traffic and other 'nastys' lurking in the streets which if spooked in a canter, is likely to encourage the horse to go faster and more likely to unseat you quicker.

On a whole, if your horse pops a few strides of canter while on a road, don't panic. Ask them to come back and chill out. My mare has been very excited recently, while on the road she started popping in little canters because she is so keen. My concern is not the concussion ( as little will be excerted for such a small amount) it is the fact she is beginning to learn that she can canter on a road, that to me is not ideal because you don't want them to learn to bolt in a street with traffic, pedestrians and other stimuli that could add too the running horse.

Back to concussion, a little dose of concussion is actually good for you and your horse. It will strengthen bones to a degree, however, it is the excessive concussion that cause bone fragmentation and lameness. it is like anything in this life, too much or too little of something is bad, but a good average dose is just right. ;)

My conclusion, Dont encourage your horse to canter on the roads, but if they pop in a few strides, just settle back and try avoid it happening again.

Hope this has put some worrys to peace.
xXx
 

Sexy Sietske

New Member
Aug 18, 2006
4,311
0
0
29
Derbyshire/nottinghamshire
I think this can relate to the hunting/weather/fitness thread. If your horse has good strong leg and a good level of fitness and is in general all round good shape I can't see it being too much of a problem. You get horses wanting to canter and bounce about on the spot when on the roads all the time so it obviously doesn't hurt them that much. I would go for a steady canter on a gravelled surface but not tarmac because of the slipping, although it has been done unintentionally.
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Torny, where did you get that dreadful dose of common sense from?? It'll all end in tears! :D :D :D Your thinking in the same box as me!

It's like running in the corridor, or keeping off the grass, we all been told not to so we all blindly accept the rules without actually analyzing them.......what's wrong with running in corridors?

I'd say that since cantering is an easier gait for the rider, QED it must be easier on the horse too???? less bouncy and less concussive.
 

mogadoga

Louise
Jun 13, 2005
3,288
0
0
29
Gateshead!
I think your right and cantering is probably less of a problem than trotting. I personally would not, i have a heavy horse with signs of sidebone. I think barefoot will be a better way to, as you dont have the stress of the concrete:shoe.

Personally i wouldnt, alex being alex wouldslip and fall lol. And like i said with the leg issues. He also has a couple of splints. So i do try and take things easy.
 

kyanya

New Member
Jan 19, 2003
5,837
0
0
31
Aberystwyth
spaces.msn.com
I went on a hack the other day from a riding school - was put on a 13.2 Welshie, and was probably on the smallest horse there. We were trotting on roads, and the few in front of me were going at a fair medium-sized horse trot pace - they weren't bombing along, but they weren't hanging about either, and these are all over 15.2, maybe bigger. So in result, my pony is having to work pretty hard to keep up; I'm having to rise up and down faster than is humanly possible with little legs underneath me working very hard to keep up. And then we're going downhill at relative speed, and I can feel it's all getting a little unbalanced, and then suddenly we're in a nice balanced, controlled canter. A large part of me is thinking 'we're going downhill on a wet, therefore probably slippery, road in canter, we should go back to trot' but it was so much more comfortable and balanced. So we cantered on for a little bit, and then trotted again, and this happened a few times. I felt bad either way - the stonking trot felt horrible, but there's other dangers with cantering on the road.

If I was out on my own (or had a say over the pace we were going at), I wouldn't canter on the road. But in that circumstance, it felt like the lesser of two evils, really.
 

boe

New Member
Apr 6, 2007
1,131
0
0
Northampton
personally i would'nt, although sometimes jack might think differently, i'm like you wally, worry about the concussion on their legs,:)
 

coss

Schooling fan
Sep 5, 2006
6,058
0
0
Scotland
when i went through a period of hacking a fair bit my mare would often put in a few strides of canter, not asked for or intentional but they would happen. she a a huge trot when she gets going and she was a lot lighter on her feet when she popped into canter and i abruptly pulled her up. going up a hill i had medium trot or nothing :rolleyes:. i'd try to keep to the verge and maintain a sensible trot but that usually ended in canter. the trot definately seemed to hammer concussively more than the canter seemed to (horse has the backend more engaged in a collected canter than medium trot so more spring in hocks and less concussion?)
In france it is apparently common practise to go for a canter along the road.
 

Sam (aka SLW)

Banned
Nov 12, 2007
380
0
0
Herefordshire
I worry about concussion so do not canter on the roads. I even very rarely trot on the roads due to concussion but then I am lucky and have miles of off road riding :D
 

boe

New Member
Apr 6, 2007
1,131
0
0
Northampton
personally i would'nt, although sometimes jack might think differently, i'm like you wally, worry about the concussion on their legs,:)
just read again, meant like you have been lead to believe while growing up that it was wrong to do so, ignore me BAD DAY:confused:
 

PinkGlamourGurl

Wont you shine, shine on.
Dec 8, 2005
2,177
1
0
27
North East, UK
Wouldn't dare! The chavs would probably race us in their chavved up vauxhall corsa! :D

On a more serious note, I'm a wimp and it'd be my luck that my horse would be the one who came down with concussion. Fleur has galloped up a road before, she bolted through a tunnel after a nasty bus put their brakes on and made the hissy noise, she was a little sore the next day.
 

Wally

Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
35,281
4,320
113
Okay, take th road traffic out of the situation, read "road" for hard surface like a road, but without the traffic hazzards.

Would you lose sleep over the odd, unintentional canter on a hard surface like a road, if the horse was unshod and had very very little weight on its back and was a small lightweight pony?